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Stocks end four-day advance as energy slides

Tod Ingrilli, center, works with fellow traders on

Tod Ingrilli, center, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Stock indexes are little changed in early trading on Wall Street after three days of gains. (April 11, 2013) Credit: AP

A four-day surge in the stock market came to an end Friday as falling commodity prices brought down energy and mining companies.

Signs of a slowing economy rattled commodity markets. The price of crude oil dropped $2.22 to $91.29 a barrel as weak U.S. economic reports followed forecasts for weaker oil demand.

Gold was down $64 to $1,501 an ounce, its lowest level since July 2011. One trigger for the latest plunge was a government report that U.S. wholesale prices fell the most in 10 months in March. Traders tend to sell gold when inflation wanes. Traders also pushed gold prices lower on reports that Cyprus may sell some of its gold reserves, possibly prompting other weak European countries like Italy and Spain to do the same.

Compared to commodities markets, the stock market looked stable. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.08 of a point to close at 14,865.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.28 percent to 1,588.85. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.16 percent to 3,294.95.

The Dow and S&P finished the week with strong gains: The Dow rose 2.1 percent, the S&P 500 rose 2.3 percent.

David Joy, the chief market strategist for Ameriprise Financial, said it's as if the stock market is telling a different story from the bond and commodity markets. "Commodities and bonds are telling stock investors: Don't be in such a hurry to say the U.S. economy is in great shape." -- AP

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